Inspiration from the Sketchbook: Camera Ready

In last month’s blog post, Inspiration From the Sketchbook: Follow the Lines, Melanie Testa showed us some of her hand-stitching techniques. This month, she shows us where she finds ideas for what she stitches!

Little did I know when I began embroidering and stitching this blouse that I would be opening doors into a new manner of working with cloth, line and journaling.  I feel as though I am stitching memories, tattooing ideas, capturing thoughts and being gently present to inspiration as it makes its way into my life.










Perhaps the Rumi quote that fits just perfectly in the space of a collar is indicative to the progression of style and approach with this garment:

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.”

This is a poignant reminder to remain true to myself and my creative goals, and it wraps right around my neck from right to left, white on white, so that you need to really take a look in order to see that it says anything at all.











In my travels, I snapped this shot of graffiti while walking the streets of Barcelona. The Eye Heart, as I have begun to call it, was perhaps 8 to 10 feet tall and appears to have been painted with a foam roller for painting walls and houses. A marvel if you consider street art is a criminal activity! I, of course, came home and interpreted the image as a stencil and have been using it to paint, embroider, make paper, design hankies and more. Stencils are quite versatile that way.










The Frixion pen is really turning out to be quite a useful tool. I have not encountered any problems in using it. It steams out of every cloth I have used it on and it has not reappeared, turned color, nothing.













While this traced stencil may seem stark and floating on its own on the blouse, it is slowly being sewn up to and around and I marvel at what this blouse might look like when complete.















I came across this poster while walking my neighborhood a few weeks back and was turned on by the artist’s ( use of paper and graphic imagery, not to mention the fact that I have used a bit of his work in my journals previously.











Duke Riley has been someone that I have been looking for ever since a friend ripped this piece of paper off a telephone pole and handed it to me. I immediately went home, glued the torn page into my journal and completed it with some of my own flair. Imagine my surprise when I came across the very same rat on a walk recently.













So I stitched an image of the rat onto my blouse, and hoping to meet Duke Riley one day, I will be wearing this when I meet him.










In the meantime I am experimenting with stenciling rose imagery in light colors onto the back of the blouse. Preparation is key here, I would like to make sure my printing approach, color choice and paints all work well for my intended purpose, so I am creating samples with several techniques before I apply any paint to my blouse.

So my question to you is, do you keep a camera at the ready? How do you pull inspiration from your daily life and use it in your art?

Melanie Testa, an accomplished textile and quilt artist, is the author of the recently released North Light book, Dreaming From the Journal Page: Transforming the Sketchbook to Art. She is also the author of Inspired To Quilt: Creative Experiments in Art Quilt Imagery (Interweave, May 09). Melanie often begins her work by sketching in journals using paint and pens, then interpreting her ideas into her fabric works of art. She teaches workshops at major art retreats and other venues nationwide. You can follow Melanie on her blog.


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One Response to Inspiration from the Sketchbook: Camera Ready

  1. Jeannie says:

    My camera is always within reach and used daily. You never know when inspiration will pop up! I love the quote.